LEGAL

NTP, U.S. in Talks About BlackBerry

NTP, the Arlington company suing Research in Motion over the BlackBerry e-mail service, and the U.S. government are in talks over how best to deal with any court ruling that shuts down the service in the United States. The Justice Department filed a court paper Nov. 8 asking that it be consulted before any order is issued against the BlackBerry service as a result of a patent-infringement finding. The government said it wants to make sure BlackBerry service continues for government and emergency workers.

NTP said the Justice Department told it the government filing "was not intended to take any position" on Research in Motion's bid to have the case put on hold pending other proceedings.

U.S. District Judge James Spencer in Richmond could order a halt to the BlackBerry service in this country because an appeals court upheld part of a jury finding against Research in Motion. The Waterloo, Canada-based company is appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before he rules on any injunction, the judge must determine whether the two sides had reached a binding agreement in which Research In Motion agreed to pay $450 million to NTP, and decide on Research In Motion's request for the delay until after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office completes a review of the NTP patents.

EARNINGS

Hewlett-Packard's Profits Drop 62%

Hewlett-Packard's fiscal fourth-quarter profit fell 62 percent to $416 million after the computer and printer company took a $1.1 billion adjustment for restructuring-related costs and other expenses. Sales in the three months ended Oct. 31 increased 7 percent, to $22.9 billion.

teleCOMMUNICATIONS

Abernathy to Resign From FCC

Federal Communications Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy, left, said she will leave the agency on Dec. 9, leaving a Republican seat open. Abernathy, 49, a lawyer, has been a commissioner for almost five years. She didn't say whether she has a new job. Bush did not name a successor to Abernathy, whose term expires at the end of the year.

Cingular Adds 'Live Ticker' to Phones

Cingular Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile-telephone carrier, added a "Live Ticker" to its latest phone that will automatically provide news, weather and sports.

Customers will have free access to headlines and summaries and pay for full stories, Atlanta-based Cingular said in a statement. The ticker will be available on the Motorola V557. Additional phones will be available in 2006 with the ticker feature, which sends headlines from sources including news channel CNN and sports channel ESPN, Cingular said.

INTERNET

AOL Adds Free Photo-Sharing Site

Time Warner's America Online started a free photo-sharing Web site, adding another service aimed at building a nonsubscription customer base for advertisers.

AOL Pictures, renamed from You've Got Pictures, will be available to any Internet user through the AOL.com portal and will provide unlimited storage for digital pictures, the Dulles company said.

AOL said it already has 6 million monthly visitors to the photo service and has nearly 300 million pictures on file.

Two New AIM Buddies, Unwelcome for Some

Two new buddies greeted chatters on America Online's instant-messaging service this week, but they were not universally welcomed. Some AIM users complained that the buddies -- to promote AOL's movies and shopping services -- were an intrusion.

Mike Masnick of Techdirt called them "buddy list spam." The new buddies are known as bots. Users who send a message to the "MovieFone" buddy are automatically given options to check movie showtimes. The "ShoppingBuddy" offers ideas for gifts and information on deals. Sponsored by Gap, products from its stores get top billing. The two join other AIM bots, such as those for news and baseball scores, but this was the first time AOL added them automatically when users logged on.

SOFTWARE

Microsoft Executive Shifts Jobs

Microsoft's senior vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions, Doug Burgum, right, will take a newly created position as chairman of the division, which sells specialized software for small- and mid-sized businesses.

Burgum began at Microsoft five years ago, when the software giant bought Great Plains Software, where he was president. The acquisition was part of Microsoft's effort to get into the business of selling specialized programs that allow small companies to manage finances, customer relationships and other tasks.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.